Tony La Russa defends strange intentional walk decision after it backfires in White Sox loss vs. Dodgers

White Sox supervisor Tony La Russa, no complete stranger to criticism or second-guessing throughout his year-plus at the helm in Chicago, made an uncommon and expensive tactical mistake in the 6th inning of Thursday’s 11-9 loss versus the Los Angeles Dodgers (box rating). 

The Dodgers, up by a 7-5 margin, had a runner on very first base and 2 outs in the inning when Trea Turner stepped to the plate versus White Sox lefty Bennett Sousa. Sousa worked an 0-2 count versus Turner prior to uncorking a wild pitch that enabled the runner to advance. Rather than permit Sousa to continue versus Turner with a 1-2 count in his favor, La Russa required a deliberate walk — the very first of the season to come in a two-strike count — to raise Max Muncy, who was making his return from an elbow injury.

That showed to be the incorrect choice in much shorter order, as Muncy unloaded a three-run crowning achievement on the 5th pitch he saw, extending the Dodgers’ cause 10-5:

An affordable individual might ask, what the heck was La Russa thinking? Here’s our finest effort at discussing his idea procedure. It comes down to La Russa 1) considerably overstating Turner’s possibilities of getting a hit and scoring another run (we can state for sure La Russa wasn’t worried about Turner drawing a walk, considering that he released one); and 2) considerably undervaluing Muncy’s possibilities of extending the inning.

It’s real that Turner went into the video game with a .303 batting average on the season, however that mark isn’t agent of his real chances of tape-recording a knock provided the count. Turner has actually struck .269 in at-bats that have actually reached a 1-2 count this season, and even that number most likely overstates his possibilities, viewing as how he’s a profession .226 player in those scenarios.

While we can’t understand how most likely La Russa felt Turner was to get a hit, we can securely presume his estimations had it as most likely than Muncy’s possibilities of extending the frame. Was that a reasonable presumption to make, even without hindsight? No.

Muncy has actually traditionally been an excellent player; he didn’t accumulate a .240/.364/.499 slash line from 2019-21 by mishap. He hasn’t played almost too this season after hurting his elbow late in 2015, and he went into Thursday having actually struck .150/.327/.263 in his very first 168 journeys to the plate. He’s been even worse versus lefties, striking .125/.300/.150 in 40 at-bats. (Sousa, for his part, has reverse divides so far in his big-league profession.) His typical and max exit speeds are down compared to typical, and he’s swinging less typically total, amazing for somebody who has actually constantly revealed a more passive technique at the plate.

It’s sensible to believe Muncy has actually been jeopardized by his elbow injury, which he may carry out even worse than anticipated — particularly with concerns to striking typical and power. Even so, the something he has actually continued to stand out at doing is getting on base. Even with his rank batting average and punching portion, he’s reached base more frequently than the league-average player. You might question his capability to strike the ball hard today, and you may be ideal about that, however you should not discount his eye. Besides, Sousa has actually strolled 11 percent of the batters he’s faced this year, indicating a bout of wildness should not have actually been dismissed of the world of possibility. (Though, to be reasonable, he has actually tossed a league-average rate of strikes and he never ever had control issues in the minors.)

Muncy, for his part, appeared to take exception to the two-strike walk of Turner. La Russa, on the other hand, protected his choice when he consulted with press reporters and stated it was the “right call.”

We must likewise explain here that a deliberate walk choice is rarely as basic as the base-out state and a contrast of the strolled batter and the picked batter. There’s likewise the batter who follows the picked batter. In this case, that would be Dodgers catcher Will Smith, an above-average player himself. Had Sousa simply strolled Muncy rather of quiting a three-run crowning achievement, he still would’ve needed to deal with Smith with the bases filled. That’s far from a perfect result for the White Sox.

The amusing aspect of La Russa’s choice is that the chances were still in favor of Sousa tape-recording an out and leaving the inning. That’s the charm of playing defense: the chances are that any provided plate look will end in an out, despite the situations. That’s simply how baseball works. Of course, that declaration is likewise why permitting Sousa to continue with his fight versus Turner would’ve been the more reasonable option, which’s without diving deep into the numbers as we did above.

La Russa’s judgment has actually been questioned considering that he presumed his post prior to last season, and the White Sox’s underperformance to date has actually caused fans and media members alike questioning if he must be enabled to end up the project. If La Russa keeps making choices like the one he did on Thursday — choices that feel incorrect at the time and after the truth, which backfire right away — the calls for his termination will just grow louder.

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